Maputo, 4 Sep (AIM) – Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo, is still trying to keep Democratic Revolution (RD), a party formed by Renamo dissidents, off the ballot paper for the municipal elections scheduled for 11 October.
Renamo claims that the RD has not yet obeyed an instruction from the Constitutional Council, the highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, to change its symbol.
The RD symbol includes portraits of the first commander of Renamo, Andre Matsangaissa, and of his successor, Afonso Dhlakama. The Constitutional Council ruled that the symbol risked confusing voters, who might cast their ballots for the RD in the belief that they were voting for Renamo.
Cited in Monday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, the Deputy Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (CNE), appointed by Renamo, Fernando Mazanga, claimed that the RD has not yet changed the offending symbol.
Yet a new RD symbol, which does not contain images of any Renamo leaders, has circulated widely on social media, through it has apparently not yet been approved by the Constitutional Council.
When the CNE met on Saturday it voted in favour of allowing the RD to stand in the elections. The vote was on party political lines – those CNE members appointed by, or supportive of the ruling Frelimo Party – voted to allow the RD to stand. Those appointed by Renamo and by the second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) voted against.
The CNE says that the RD has guaranteed that its symbols will be changed “in the next two days”.
The RD wanted to stand in ten of the 65 municipalities, but it failed to provide the legally necessary documentation for its candidates in half of these municipalities. The CNE thus approved RD candidates in only five municipalities.
On the Constitutional Council’s instructions, the CNE drew lots once again for positions on the ballot paper, in order to include the RD’s name.
This made little difference. Because they are the only parties standing in all 65 municipalities, Frelimo, Renamo and the MDM occupy the top three slots on the ballot paper. The MDM remains in first place, Renamo edges up from third to second place, while Frelimo falls back from second to third place.
The position at the head of the ballot paper may be an advantage for the MDM, but being in the second or third slot is unlikely to make difference for Frelimo and Renamo.
Minor parties, some of whom are only standing in a couple of municipalities, occupy the rest of the ballot paper. The RD’s name was drawn for the bottom position.